Preview: Maribor Mountain Bike World Cup 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010 4.15pm
Downhill stars gather for first World Cup round of the year
All eyes will be on reigning World Cup champion Sam Hill as the 2010 race season kicks off in Maribor, Slovenia this weekend Robert Rebholz
The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series heads to Maribor, Slovenia this weekend for its first downhill round and second four-cross showdown of 2010.
With the notable exception of ex-world champ Fabien Barel, the main contenders in the men's downhill are all present and correct – 2009 World Cup winner Sam Hill (Aus|Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz), Greg Minnaar (RSA|Santa Cruz Syndicate), current world champ Steve Peat (GBr|Santa Cruz Syndicate), Gee Atherton (GBr|Commencal) and Mick Hannah (Aus|GT Bicycles). With plenty of up-and-coming youngsters snapping at their heels, the result is far from decided, though.
Things are also likely to be close in the women's race, where Rachel Atherton is back after a year out due to injury and ready to tussle for the top spot with 2009 World Cup champ Sabrina Jonnier (Fra|Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), Tracy Moseley (GBr|Trek World Racing), reigning world champ Emmeline Ragot (Fra|Suspension Center), Floriane Pugin (Fra|Scott 11) and Céline Gros (Fra|Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie).
Watch a behind-the-scenes video from MTBCut of some of the top downhill riders talking about the track at Maribor, including Chris Kovarik, Steve Peat and Dan Atherton:
In the four-cross, Jared Graves has had a stranglehold of the series in recent times and leads the 2010 series after the first round. But the likes of Joost Wichman (Ned|RSP 4 Cross Racing Team), Michal Prokop (Cze|Agang Racing) and Dan Atherton (GBr|Commenca) won't give up without a fight.
Defending World Cup champion Anneke Beerten (Ned|Suspension Center) won the first women's race in Houffalize, Belgium earlier this month but faces stiff competition from her new team-mate and downhill world champion Emmeline Ragot (Fra|Suspension Center), plus the likes of Anita Molcik (Aut), Fionn Griffiths (GBr|Norco World Team), Caroline Buchanan (Aus) and Mio Suemasa (Jpn).
Race finals kick off at 3.15pm GMT on Saturday (4X) and 12.15pm GMT on Sunday (DH). For the latest coverage, check www.cyclingnews.com. We'll bring you the results on Monday.